With Texas being the second largest state in the country, our state boasts of 7,000 miles of coastline terrain, beautiful hill country, and vast plains. Cities across the state have a lot to offer in terms of unique vacation spots including underground caves, state parks, historic landmarks, or beach getaways. Below are some locations a little off the beaten path that we hope might be new to you!
- Big Bend
Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park offer all sorts of hiking and outdoor adventures, and the nearby towns of Terlingua and Study Butte provide additional lodging, restaurants, and even nightlife.
Popular attractions include sport fishing, seafood dining, birdwatching at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, swimming at Rockport Beach, art galleries such as Rockport Center for the Arts, and a list of interesting museums featuring regional and maritime history, industry, and science.
This popular Hill Country community melds Old World heritage with small-town charms and big-city perks. Throughout the year, festival-goers celebrate everything from wildflower season to Oktoberfest. Fredericksburg has abundant local wineries, breweries, over 400 Bed & Breakfasts, restaurants, shops, museums, live theater, and art galleries.
- Palo Duro Canyon
Measuring 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 800 feet deep, Palo Duro dazzles visitors with rocky shades of pink, lavender, and orange, along with geologic formations. Palo Duro Canyon State Park provides public access for hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, and observing the rare scenery. During the summer, the park hosts the outdoor musical drama TEXAS, a lively telling of regional history set against the backdrop of a 600-foot cliff.
- Brazos Bend State Park
Only a short drive from Fulshear, Brazos Bend is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and fishing in the park’s six lakes, which are full of alligators! On Saturdays from 3-10 p.m., visitors can explore the skies and stars at the park’s George Observatory, a satellite of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which maintains three domed telescopes.
Specialty shops, art galleries, local eateries, and frequent events are major attractions in McKinney’s picturesque downtown. Nature takes center stage at a plethora of specialty parks like the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, while local history is on display at the Chestnut Square Historic Village, a collection of historic homes and replica structures from the 1854-1920 time period.
- Fort Chadbourne
Fort Chadbourne offers a striking mix of preserved ruins and restored buildings, including officer’s quarters with graffiti dating to the 1870s, enlisted men’s barracks, double officer’s quarters, and a cellar. People can even see what life looked like on the West Texas frontier during Fort Chadbourne Days, including a living-history reenactment the first Saturday in May.
- Port Aransas
Along the northern side of Mustang Island, Port Aransas has added new accommodations such as a golf course and fine-dining restaurants. Of course, the area’s natural appeal draws visitors to activities like biking, kayaking, fishing, bird-watching, beach-strolling, dolphin tours, seashell-searching, and beachfront picnics. Take the free ferry from Aransas Pass, or access the island from the south via Corpus Christi.
Activities range from shopping and dining in the Victorian-era downtown to water-skiing on Lake Granbury. Throw in a show at the 1886 Granbury Opera House, a round of golf, local winery tastings, and lodging at one of the town’s 20 plus bed and breakfasts.
- Possum Kingdom Lake
The 17,000-acre lake entices anglers, boaters, swimmers, skiers, and scuba divers, while the hill country surroundings draw campers, picnickers, and wildlife. Pick the popular Peninsula area, with stores, restaurants, rental cabins, and a go-kart track, or plan a stay at the namesake state park.
- Garner State Park
One of Texas’ most popular parks, Garner State Park enchants visitors with its dramatic scenery on the southwestern edge of the Edwards Plateau—high mesas, steep canyons, and hilltop vistas. And let’s not forget the spring-fed Frio River, an irresistible resource for swimming, tubing, and kayaking. Garner devotees have developed an entire subculture around their annual campouts, drawing together generations of families and friends.
- Glen Rose
Travelers make tracks to this idyllic hamlet to view prehistoric footprints in the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park and the native and non-native species that roam the rolling hills at nearby Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Known for its abundance of petrified- wood structures, Glen Rose also harbors a picturesque courthouse square, diverse shops, restaurants, and lodging, and a restored 19th-Century gristmill and surrounding buildings that serve as a museum of history and art.
- Caddo Lake State Park
Every Texan should experience the primeval mystery of Caddo Lake State Park. With its ghostly, century-old cypress trees draped with gray-green Spanish moss, cozy cabins built in the 1930s, and a history that encompasses pearl hunting and steam boating, a Caddo getaway is calling! Stay at the park, or find lodging and dining in the nearby towns of Uncertain, Marshall, and Jefferson.
- Marble Falls
Marble Falls’ picturesque setting along is enticing enough, but travelers stick around this Hill Country town for the live music, classic cafés, art galleries, intriguing shops, and annual events that range from a soapbox derby to drag-boat races.